CHARLES by Shirley JacksonWhat do you learn about Charles in the below preview section? "Most classrooms have a boy who is always in trouble.in this story we find that even a kindergarden class...

CHARLES by Shirley Jackson

What do you learn about Charles in the below preview section?

"Most classrooms have a boy who is always in trouble.
in this story we find that even a kindergarden class has its problem child- Charles.
We may not expect to find humor amid all the problems that surround such a boy, but let Shirley Jackson tell you all about "Charles"..."

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first thing we learn from this preview is that the story that Shirley Jackson is about to tell us is set in a classroom. The second thing is that the character that we will learn about is "a boy who is always in trouble," or, in the words of this narrator, "a problem child" named Charles.

We can gather from this small piece of information that the reality of school life is that children like Charles are likely to exist. In other words, it is almost commonplace to find a child who likes to cause trouble in class, even in kindergarten. This means that kids like Charles, while a potential nuisance, are almost expected to surface at some point in a school setting, no matter what age group they represent.

The message is that there is nothing lighthearted behind the potential motivation of a child like Charles. The inference that can be drawn from this statement is that the acts of naughty children could stem from anything, including immaturity or lack of attention. Hence, 

We may not expect to find humor amid all the problems that surround such a boy

Also, the phrase "the problems that surround such a boy," could also refer to the collateral issues and consequences that happen to kids who are always in trouble: they lose privileges, friends, and the trust of adults. This is why, when we learn about Charles, we find a story of a kid that does what he does for reasons that we can only speculate about. 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The preview establishes "Charles" as a challenging child.

In the preview, Charles is seen as a behavior problem.  The preview clearly states that "Charles" repeatedly gets in "trouble."  In addition to this, Charles is labeled as a "problem child," meaning that he causes tension in the classroom setting to students and teacher.  When the preview concludes that Jackson is going to talk "all about" Charles, it is anticipated that what she will describe will involve high- jinks and outlandish behavior that concerns an uncontrollable child.

In many regards, Jackson plays off of this in her short story.  The preview establishes the "bad kid" in the classroom setting.  It is one in which poorly behaved children are seen as "the outsider" or "someone else's kid."  The preview makes Charles out to be "that" student.  However, one of the most effective aspects of Jackson's short story is how "that" child might be our own. When the teacher tells the mother, "We don't have any Charles in Kindergarten," it is unsettling because she recognizes that Charles was not "that kid," but rather her own.  The preview describes Charles in the same terms that the mother perceives him to be.  However, the tables turn rather brutally when we understand that the child we tend to point the dirty end of the stick at might be our own.  At that point, our perception changes and self- awareness develops.